NHS restructuring

By Michael HardwareDirector of Planning and Property

The bodies deciding on healthcare provision and developer contributions will change from next April.  The current Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), which have been in place since 2012, will be transferred into new Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) which will become statutory bodies from April 2022.

The aim of these fundamental reforms is to bring together the NHS, local authorities and third sector bodies to provide better more integrated care for patients on a local basis.

 New Integrated Care Systems

There will be 42 new ICGs covering England, mainly based on county areas covering between one and three million people each. The exception is the east of England where current catchment areas will remain meaning, for example, Essex will have three ICGs covering the county, sharing ICSs with Hertfordshire and Suffolk.

The changes, which are encapsulated within the Health and Care Bill, will reverse rules around ‘the market’ in healthcare instead focusing the NHS on greater collaboration. The aim is to provide people the care they need. It removes existing divisions between hospitals and family doctors, between physical and mental health, and between NHS and council services.

 Pressures on the NHS

The reforms are viewed as crucial as the NHS is facing huge pressures from an aging and growing population with multiple and complex medical needs. It must look at different ways of working if it is not to be overwhelmed in the medium, term. There will be a greater focus on prevention and health and wellbeing, as well as a move away from traditional treatment models, such as hospitals and health centres, towards more care at home and the use of technology.

The timing for these reforms is not ideal. As if handling the worst pandemic in living memory and now trying to catch up on the backlog of treatment was not enough, the Government is pushing through these reforms seeing them as key to the NHS being able to cope in the medium- and long-term future.

 What does this mean for developers?

Apart from dealing with different bodies from April 2022, developers will see further changes over the coming years. It is expected that the new ICSs will get more involved in local plan and development planning in terms of health prevention, health and wellbeing, and in structured local healthcare provision including, possibly, more local hubs and more care in the community.